A Black Los Angeles police captain is suing the city, alleging he was denied promotions because he did not conform with what he claims is Chief Charlie Beck's belief that all officers sent to Board of Rights hearings should be fired.
Captain Byford (Peter) Whittingham also alleges that only three Black captains have been promoted to elevated captain ranks with higher pay out of the 58 such promotions Beck has granted since becoming head of the department in November 2009.
Whittingham's whistleblower suit also alleges retaliation and discrimination. He's seeking unspecified damages.
An LAPD spokeswoman said the department does not comment on litigation.
According to the lawsuit, Whittingham at times serves on Board of Rights hearings to determine whether officers should be disciplined for alleged misconduct.
During a meeting of LAPD personnel of the rank of captain or above, a deputy chief — with Beck present — "told all command staff that when the chief sends an officer to a Board of Rights (hearing), he expects that officer to be terminated and the commanding officers sitting on the Board of Rights do not have the authority to do anything different."
In August 2012, Whittingham says he sat on a Board of Rights hearing in which he believed that information existed to exonerate an accused officer and wanted to dismiss the case based on an opinion from the City Attorney's Office.
"However, Chief Beck overruled plaintiff's decision and the Board of Rights (hearing) was ordered to proceed," the suit states. At the end of the hearing, Whittingham says he voted to suspend rather than fire the officer.
On another occasion, Whittingham testified favorably during an administrative hearing on behalf of a black officer who alleged he was subjected to racist conduct by a captain. Before the hearing, the captain called Whittingham a "traitor" and used epithets in her remarks, the suit says.
The complaint also states that Whittingham was told by a deputy chief that Beck considers the conclusions of captains sitting on Board of Rights hearings in deciding whether their positions should be upgraded.
Whittingham believed the comment was in reference to the times his opinions regarding officer misconduct allegations during Board of Rights hearings did not coincide with Beck's, according to the complaint.
Whittingham says he also believes that his decision to stand up for the rights of Black officers as an active member of the Oscar Joe Bryant organization — named for a Black LAPD officer killed in action in 1968 – also has been held against him within the LAPD hierarchy.
Whittingham was promoted to the position of Captain I in May 2009 and became eligible for a paygrade advancement in May 2010, according to his suit.
"Of the 35 captains who were promoted after the plaintiff and who were later upgraded in rank during the period between August 2010 and January 2014, only one was Black," according to the lawsuit.
Whittingham was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on November 11, 1954. He graduated from the Montego Bay High School in 1972, and while attending the Montego Bay Community College in 1974, he was recruited to join the Jamaica Police Department. He served in the Jamaica Police Department for approximately 10 years and worked various assignments, including a two-year tour of duty in the Jamaica Supreme Court, and approximately four years as an Immigration Officer. He retired from the Jamaica Police Department and migrated to the United States in September 1983.
After migrating to the United States, Captain Whittingham resumed his career in law enforcement by joining the University of Southern California (USC) Public Safety (Campus Police) Department in 1985. He resigned from the USC Public Safety Department at the rank of Sergeant to join the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on May 2, 1988. After graduating from the LAPD Academy, Captain Whittingham continued his formal education at The University of La Verne, California, where he graduated Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration. Captain Whittingham, who prides himself as a practitioner of Situational Leadership, has attended various management/leadership training/seminars, and is a graduate of the LAPD West Point Leadership Program, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy. After graduating from the LAPD Academy in October 1988, Captain Whittingham's first field assignment was Wilshire Area.